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Learning Guitar - Beginner Guitar Lesson and Much More

What you'll need for Guitar Lessons

A guitar with six strings. Any type of guitar will work fine. Guitars pick. Medium gauged picks are recommended to start with, but any will work okay in a pinch.

A chair without arms. A reasonable amount of patience.

Although there are many different types of guitars (acoustic, electric, classical, electric-acoustic, etc.), they all have many things in common. The diagram on the illustration page shows the various parts of a guitar. At the top of the guitar in the illustration is the "headstock", a general term which describes the part of the guitar attached to the slimmer neck of the instrument. On the headstock are "tuners", which you will use to adjust the pitch of each of the strings on the guitar. At the point in which the headstock meets the neck of the guitar, you'll find the "nut". A nut is simply a small piece of material (plastic, bone, etc.), in which small grooves are carved out to guide the strings up to the tuners.

The neck of the guitar is the area of the instrument you'll concentrate a great deal on: you'll put your fingers on various places on the neck, in order to create different notes.

The neck of the guitar adjoins the "body" of the instrument. The body of the guitar will vary greatly from guitar to guitar. Most acoustic and classical guitars have a hollowed out body, and a "sound hole", designed to project the sound of the guitar. Most electric guitars have a solid body, and thus will not have a sound hole. Electric guitars will instead have "pick-ups" where the sound hole is located. These "pick-ups" are essentially small microphones, which allow the capture the sound of the ringing strings, allowing them to be amplified. The strings of the guitar run from the tuning pegs, over the nut, down the neck, over the body, over the sound hole (or pick-ups), and are anchored at a piece of hardware attached to the body of the guitar, called a "bridge".

The neck: A closer look

Examine the neck of your guitar. You'll notice there are metal strips running across it's entire surface. These pieces of metal are referred to as "frets" on a guitar. Now, here's what you'll need to keep in mind: the word "fret" has two different meanings when used by guitarists. It can be used to describe the space on the neck between one piece of metal and the next piece of metal itself.

To further explain, the area of the neck between the nut and the first strip of metal is referred to as the "first fret". The area on the neck between the first and second strip of metal is referred to as the "second fret". And so on...

Now, that we know about the basic parts of a guitar, it's time to get our hands dirty, and start learning to play it. Get yourself an arm less chair, and take a seat. You should be sitting comfortably, with your back against the back of the chair. Slouching significantly is a no-no; you'll not only end up with a sore back, you'll develop bad habits on the guitar.

Now, pick up your guitar, and hold it so the back of the body of the instrument comes in contact with your stomach/chest, and the bottom of the neck runs parallel to the floor. The thickest string on the guitar should be the closest to your face, while the thinnest should be closest to the floor. If this isn't the case, turn the guitar the in other direction. Typically, a right-handed person will hold the guitar so the headstock points to the left, whereas a left-handed person will hold the guitar so the headstock points to the right. (NOTE: to play the guitar as a lefty would, you will need a left-handed guitar.)

When playing the guitar sitting down, the body of the guitar will rest on one of your legs. In most styles of guitar playing, the guitar will rest on the leg farthest away from the headstock. This means, a person playing the guitar in a right-handed fashion will typically rest the guitar on his/her right leg, while someone playing the guitar in a lefty manner will rest it on their left leg. (NOTE: proper classical guitarist technique dictates the exact OPPOSITE of the above, but for this lesson, let's stick to our initial explanation)

Next, concentrate on your "fretting hand" (the hand closest to the neck of the guitar, when sitting in proper position). The thumb of your fretting hand should rest behind the neck of the guitar, with your fingers in a slightly curled position, poised above the strings. It is extremely important to keep these fingers curled at the knuckles, except when specifically instructed not to do so.

Hopefully, you've found, bought or borrowed a guitar pick. If not, you'll need to buy yourself some. Don't be stingy, go and pick up at least 10 of them - guitar picks are easy to lose (they often don't cost more than 30 or 40 cents each). You can experiment with different shapes and brands, but I highly recommend medium gauge picks to start; ones that aren't too flimsy, or too hard.

The following explains how to hold, and use a pick. When reading, keep in mind that your "picking hand" is the hand, which is nearest to the bridge of the guitar, when sitting in the correct position.

Open you're picking hand, and turn the palm to face you.

Close your hand to make a very loose fist. Your thumb should remain beside your index finger. Rotate your hand until you are looking at it's profile, with your thumb's knuckle facing you. With your other hand, slide your guitar pick between your thumb and index finger. The pick should be approximately located behind the knuckle of the thumb.

Be sure the pointed end of the pick is pointing directly away from your fist, and is protruding by about a half an inch. Hold the pick firmly.

Position your picking hand over the sound hole of your acoustic guitar, or over the body of your electric guitar. Your picking hand, with thumb knuckle still facing you, should hover over the strings. Do not rest your picking hand on the strings or body of the guitar.

Using your wrist for motion (rather than your entire arm), strike the sixth (lowest) string of your guitar in a downward motion. If the string rattles excessively, try striking the string a bit softer, or with less of the pick surface. Now, pick the sixth string in an upward motion. Repeat the process several times. Try and minimize motion in your picking hand: one short picking stroke downwards, then one short picking stroke upwards. This process is referred to as "alternate picking"

Try the same exercise on the fifth, fourth, third, second, and first strings.

Tips:

Holding the pick in this manner will invariably feel awkward at first. You will initially have to pay special attention to your picking hand whenever you play guitar.

Try and create fluidity in your alternate picking. Your down strokes should sound virtually identical to your upstrokes.